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Unique Aureus of Philip IIPhilip II (AD 247-249). AV aureus (4.71 gm). Rome, AD 247. IMP PHILIPPVS AVG, laureate, draped bust of Philip right / LIBERALITAS AVGG III, Philips I and II seated left on curule chairs side-by-side, each extending right hand, the elder in foreground holding short staff. RIC --; for reverse type cf. 230 (Antoninianus). Calico --. Cohen --. Unrecorded and unique! Choice extremely fine.
Born in AD 237, Marcus Julius Severus Philippus was seven years old when his father, Philip I, had him proclaimed Caesar early in AD 244. The elder Philip was a nobleman of Arab descent who had risen to the post of Praetorian Prefect in the reign of Gordian III (AD 238-244) before staging a successful coup against the young emperor while they were on campaign in Persia. Although the empire was beset with many troubles, the reign started off with some promise. Philip was a conscientious ruler who showed tolerance toward Christians and other persecuted groups. In 247 the younger Philip was elevated to the rank of co-Augustus, and together father and son presided over the Saecular Games that marked Rome's 1,000th anniversary in AD 248. However, in the following months turmoil on the frontiers led to a rash of attempted usurpations, prompting the elder Philip to send the general Decius to put them down. Instead, Decius was proclaimed emperor by his soldiers, who then marched against Rome. The two Philips gathered a legionary force and marched out to meet the usurper at Verona, but were defeated and slain in battle. An alternative account states that the younger Philip remained at Rome, but was murdered by the Praetorians once the outcome became known.
Gold coins dating from the reign of the two Philips are exceptionally rare, due to the increasing scarcity of precious metals in the mid-third century. This beautiful aureus displays an exceptionally lifelike portrait of the 10-year-old Philip II; the reverse, hitherto unknown as an aureus type but well known from silver and bronze issues, shows the two Philips preparing to hand out money to the citizens of Rome in celebration of Rome's "New Age" and the younger's elevation to the rank of Augustus.
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